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How to avoid paying bus lane fine

Legal Limit for How Long Council Has to Issue a Bus Lane Fine

Janine Marsh Thrifty Family
Janine Marsh Thrifty Family

Janine Marsh

Financial Expert

Janine is a financial expert who supports individuals with debt management, cost-saving resources, and navigating parking tickets.

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· Feb 15th, 2024
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How Long Council Has to Issue a Bus Lane Fine

Have you received a bus lane fine from the council? You may have many questions about it. Don’t worry lots of people are in the same boat. Every month, over 32,000 people come to this site for guidance on tickets and fines.

In this article, we’ll help you understand:

  • What a bus lane fine is and why you might get one.
  • How to make an appeal if you think your fine is wrong.
  • What happens if you drive in a bus lane by mistake.
  • The cost of a bus lane fine.
  • The time it takes for a bus lane fine to arrive.

We know how you feel. Receiving a fine can be scary and confusing, but we’re here to help. We’ve dealt with loads of cases just like yours, so we understand your worries about the cost of the fine, the fear of the appeal failing, and other legal problems that might come from the fine. Take a deep breath and let’s help you understand how to deal with your bus lane fine.

Do You Have To Pay?

In some circumstances, you might have a legitimate reason not to pay your bus lane fine.

It’s a bit sneaky, but the last time I needed legal advice, I paid £5 for a trial to chat with an online solicitor called JustAnswer.

Not only did I save £50 on solicitor feeds, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

Chat below to get started with JustAnswer

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Do you have to pay a Penalty Charge bus fine?

You must pay or appeal a bus lane fine within 28 days. Otherwise, the council will take further action and you won’t be able to make an appeal in the future. 

How to make a bus lane fine appeal

Bus lane fine appeals can differ between councils and other issuers, but in general, it follows the following process:

  1. You can make an informal appeal to the council within 14 days. During this time the council will hold the 50% discount in case the appeal is rejected. 
  1. If rejected, you can make a formal representation to the council before 28 days have passed or after you receive a Notice to Owner (after the 28-day payment deadline). At this point, you lose access to the 50% fine discount altogether. 
  1. You can escalate a rejected representation to the independent Traffic Penalty Tribunal for a final decision.

I have explained more about this process within my appealing a ticket main page. 

Successful Appeal Case Study


Initial Fine £100
Additional Fees £171
Total Fine £271

The Appeal Process

Scott used JustAnswer, online legal service to enhance his appeal. The trial of this cost him just £5.

Total Fine £271
Cost of legal advice £5

JustAnswer helped Scott craft the best appeal possible and he was able to win his case.

Scott’s fine was cancelled and he only paid £5 for the legal help.

Get legal help

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What would happen if you ignored a bus lane fine from the council?

Ignoring a bus lane fine from the council will result in being forced to pay more. 

The first thing the council does is send a Charge Certificate, which notifies you that the fine has increased by 50% of its original value. The new fine must be paid within 14 days.

If two weeks pass without paying the new fine amount in full, the council can apply to the court for an order to make you pay. This adds court fees to what is now considered a debt. If you don’t pay at this stage, the council may then enforce the debt using bailiffs. This adds even more fees to the debt, so it’s best avoided. 

How much does a bus lane fine cost?

On average, bus lane fines usually cost around £70.

Bus lane fines can differ based on location. For example, a bus lane fine in London might cost more than a bus lane fine elsewhere, but not always. But there is an easy way to get 50% off your bus lane fine no matter where it occurred or which authority issued it. 

You can get your bus lane fine cut in half by simply accepting the fine and paying within 14 days – or sometimes within 21 days. By making the payment quickly, you can save £35 or more in some cases. 

Getting the support of a Solicitor can take a huge weight off your mind.

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How long does a Penalty Notice take to arrive?

Most Penalty Charge Notices will be received within two weeks of the alleged offence.

The council will spot the incident on a bus lane camera and then use the registration plate to find the registered vehicle keeper’s address. 

The council does this by contacting the DVLA and asking for the address of the person who owns that vehicle. This is why it’s important to keep your DVLA records up to date. 

How long does a council have to issue a bus lane fine?

The general rule is that the council must send your bus lane Penalty Charge Notice within 28 days

This has been confirmed by Citizens Advice here. This means you could be able to fight back against the bus lane fine if there has been a delay, but it might not always be the best excuse to appeal…

The council doesn’t have to send the bus lane fine within 28 days if there have been delays in receiving the vehicle owner’s address from the DVLA, which can occur. 

Moreover, if you have not updated your address with the DVLA on time and the council sends the Penalty Charge to the wrong address, this will be judged to be your mistake – not theirs. 

Hire a Solicitor for less than a coffee.

If you’re thinking about appealing your parking ticket then getting some professional advice is a good idea.

Getting the support of a Solicitor can make your appeal much more likely to win.

For a £5 trial, Solicitors from JustAnswer can look at your case and help you create an airtight appeal.

Try it below!

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Who has to pay the Penalty Charge Notice?

All Penalty Charge Notice fines are the responsibility of the vehicle owner even if they weren’t the person driving at the time of the alleged contravention. 

Unlike other motoring offences like speeding, the person who committed the contravention isn’t always the person responsible to pay the Penalty Charge Notice. 

This can seem unfair, but this is just how it is and vehicle owners cannot appeal on these grounds unless the vehicle had been stolen. If you have received the fine but someone else was driving, it’s a good idea to talk to them about it. They may offer to (help you) pay. 

How to pay a bus lane fine

Most bus lane fines can be paid online by visiting the website of the authority that issued the Penalty Charge Notice. Through an online portal, you will be able to make a bus lane fine payment with a debit or credit card. 

The other common ways to pay a bus lane fine are over the phone using a 24/7 payment line, or by sending a cheque in the post. 

No matter which way you opt to pay the bus lane fine, you will need to know your Penalty Charge Number reference number and your vehicle registration number, If you have lost the former then you will need to contact the PCN issuer for guidance. 

Do you have to tell insurance about a bus lane fine?

You aren’t usually required to tell your vehicle insurance provider about the incident. A bus lane fine is a civil offence and doesn’t come with any penalty points on your licence. 

Although you should never lie on an insurance renewal and application, so always disclose it if asked. If in doubt whether you need to tell them mid-way through an insurance policy, check your policy details or speak to the insurance provider directly. 

Bus lane Fixed Penalty from the police

In some areas, the police could pull you over for driving in a bus lane. They will then give you a verbal Notice of Prosecution or send a written Notice of Prosecution to the vehicle owner’s address within 14 days. 

Here is an example:

Bus lane Fixed Penalty from the police

Source: https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/2520237/bus-lane-fine-please-help 

The person responsible for driving in the bus lane would then be identified by the vehicle owner, and that person would receive a conditional offer (a fine) to avoid court prosecution. This could take up to six months but is usually much quicker. 

How long can a PCN be issued after the offence? (Quick recap)

The council usually has to issue a Penalty Charge Notice within 28 days, but this deadline can be extended if the DVLA is slow to provide them with the vehicle owner’s address. 

Further info can be found on this government page. 

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The authors
Janine Marsh Thrifty Family
Janine is a financial expert who supports individuals with debt management, cost-saving resources, and navigating parking tickets.